Here she is, my gorgeous Wind Rose model wearing my first ever nuno felt scarf. So how did it go?
Saturday was the day. I fed my kids and husband a huge breakfast in the hopes that I would gain a couple hours before anyone approached me with, "I'm hungry". Then off I went to cut out my fabrics. My original plan was to do most everything outside, but there was a little breeze and it didn't take me long to realize that this wind would not be my friend while I worked with cloudy tufts of wool. So after I had my silk chiffon, plastic, polyester, and bubble wrap good to go, I retrieved my long tables and brought them up to my bedroom. There I could lock myself in at least long enough to lay out my design.
The first kind of beginner decision I made, was to go a little smaller than the scarf template recommended by my book Uniquely Felt. It was a combination of disbelief at how much the wool would actually shrink down and my work space. I wanted my scarf to fit on my tables and not have to roll it up in sections. I settled on 13" by 72". After I briefly read over how to layer my fabrics; bubble wrap, plastic, silk, polyester, I set aside the book and just went on instinct.
I wasn't working with an actual scarf, just a piece of cut silk chiffon. I was concerned about my edges looking good so I went around the perimeter of the scarf first. Then I filled in the middle. On this first scarf, I didn't take the time to dye the chiffon so I went with natural merino. On top of that I sprinkled white nylon Firestar. I just can't resist adding a little sparkle. Then I used a soft purple merino to make my dancing star shapes. At first I was planning on flowers, but they just seemed to become more star-like as I went. Then to make sure the nylon was tacked down and to add some depth of color, I put finishing touches of Light Grey Coopworth wool. I really had no idea if I was using too much or too little. I just kind of let the design come together the way it wanted.
I think the most nerve-racking part for me was rolling it up. Oops, I'm jumping ahead, I did cover it with the polyester and spritz it down with water first. Back to rolling: Even using a noodle, there was no way to roll it and not possibly have a small crease or two. I just didn't know what impact this would have on the finished piece. I got more comfortable after I rolled and unrolled it a couple times. It made me feel better to check on the scarf and straighten it out before rolling it in the opposite direction. I could tell it would be ok.
Once I felt confident that the fibers were going through the silk, I moved my operation back outside. The fulling process was much more familiar to me having wet felted in the past. From this point on, I was feeling pretty good about things.
This picture is from fairly early on in the fulling process. It was fun to be outside in the sun and working with the hot soapy water. I went with a mild lavender and chamomile soap thinking that if there was any trace scent left behind, it would be pleasant. I have to say that the scarf did shrink up considerably, just as the book said it would. I knew this would be more of a child size, but that was ok with me, as long as everything else went alright.
So here is a close-up of the finished scarf all dry. I was hoping to catch a bit of the sparkle in the morning light, but it's hard with light colors. I do love how soft and light it feels and of course I'm already thinking about what I'll do differently next time. Overall, I'm very pleased.
I'm also thinking that I'm going to turn this first piece into something other than a scarf. I'm planning on perhaps a couple wrist cuffs and maybe a case for my iPhone (I just wore out my old one). I think it's exciting to be able to create your own fabric in this way and then take it from there. The creative possibilities really are endless! I'll keep sharing my creations and hopefully my positive progress. I also have two or three more nuno felters that I would like to introduce you to before I shift my focus. I hope you've been enjoying this series on nuno felt. See you tomorrow.